By Carol La Valley, Roundup staff reporter
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
? ?Family reunions aren't just an afternoon picnic anymore. Now they are organized events, carefully planned a good year in advance that typically last over a long weekend, according to Reunions magazine. Family can be defined for the purposes of a reunion as a group of people who desire to spend time together. The individual sending out the invitations must have more specific parameters.
? ?Hoyt Kenmore of Payson wanted to organize a family reunion with people who had the surname Kenmore. "To my knowledge, every Kenmore descendant in the U.S. comes from either Robert or James Kenmore," he said. Hoyt Kenmore is a descendant of James. An objective of the event was to meet descendants of Robert and create some familial links that were not there before. He began by surfing the Internet and pulling the address of every Kenmore in the U.S. He added to the list all the married female Kenmores he could find, then sent out a letter to 103 addresses.
? ?The letter, sent out a year in advance, contained:
? What -- family reunion;
? When and where -- Payson, Ariz. over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday in June of 2002 and some area attractions and events.
? ?Recipients were encouraged to share the letter with whomever they felt appropriate. In the letter, Kenmore noted that if he didn't get a response, the addressee would not be included in future mailings. "I had 68 initial positive responses," Kenmore said. He also updated his list with 12 undeliverable and added another 30 Kenmore descendants with different last names.
? ?Kenmore next went to the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and put together packets showing area attractions like the Tonto Natural Bridge and children fishing at Green Valley Park to entice family members to Payson. He sent them to everyone who responded to the first letter. He also had the Arizona visitors center send out their tourist packets. All told, 70 Kenmore descendants attended the family reunion despite the Rodeo Chedeski fire that was in full blaze. People traveling from New Mexico had to drive around. But Hoyt got his wish to meet new relatives, as a married couple all the way from Michigan attended with a cousin from Georgia who were descendants of Robert. A couple from Tucson attended who were descendants of James' daughter.
? ?Friday evening was a potluck with lots of desserts. The Galveston cousin brought in shrimp cocktail for everyone while Hoyt took care of salad and soft drinks. On Saturday morning, there was breakfast at the hotel. Lunch was food left over from the potluck, and dinner was catered by Cucina Paradiso.? Country dances around the Rim, such as this one at Bob Kiser's See Canyon Ranch, about 1929, served as reunions of sorts for far flung families and friends.? ?
? ?As part of Saturday's educational entertainment, one Kenmore gave a presentation on genealogy that sparked Hoyt and another cousin to have their DNA charts done to study their common genealogy. "Our first 12 markers are identical, which says that we do have a common ancestor within 12 to 15 generations," Hoyt said.
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